Even if you don’t know who Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (pictured above) are, you’ve certainly encountered their work. Having broken into the industry on syndicated ’90s shows like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, the duo went on to become one of the hottest writing partnerships in Hollywood. Their names can be found in the credits of huge summer tentpoles such as the Transformers movies, Mission: Impossible III, Cowboys & Aliens, and the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2. They also helped co-write the first two Star Trek reboot movies, but that long partnership will come to an end with Star Trek 3: Variety reports that Kurtzman will be beaming out of the franchise, whereas Orci is apparently campaigning to direct the third Trek film.
Last December the Trek writing staff got shaken up when it was announced that a pair of blokes named J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay had been hired to write the Star Trek 3 script with Orci, but Alex Kurtzman was stepping away from the keyboard (Star Trek Into Darkness co-writer Damon Lindelof won’t be returning for Trek 3 either). Given how long Kurtzman and Orci have been collaborating, the news seemed odd, and now Variety confirms that Kurtzman and Orci are “parting amicably” to work on different projects. Kurtzman wrote the script for Sony’s Spider-Man spin-off focusing on Venom, and he’ll also be directing that film.
When J.J. Abrams took the helm of Star Wars: Episode VII, it was no surprise that he had to step away from directing Star Trek 3. Since that announcement, there have been quite a few directors rumored for the next Trek film’s big chair, including Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible III), John Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block). Variety’s story is the first time we’ve heard about Orci being a contender, but it makes sense. Whether you like his work or not, he’s helped make Hollywood a boatload of money over the years, Star Trek 3 still hasn’t locked down a director, and Orci is now the only remaining writer who is a veteran of both of the rebooted Trek movies.
Variety says Orci’s got the backing of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, but Paramount is “being cautious” since this would be Orci’s directorial debut. With all the behind-the-scenes turnover, Star Trek 3 could be a perfect opportunity to learn from the lessons of the first two films and perhaps craft a sequel that will appeal more to long-time Trek fans as well as newcomers to the franchise. Star Trek Into Darkness, while a box office success with $467 million worldwide, wasn’t as big a hit as Paramount might have liked. Getting the right people onboard to steer the next Trek film could be crucial.
It’s worth considering, however, that most of the problems with the last two Star Trek movies, once you get past the J.J. Abrams hate and the blind rage of purists who probably weren’t going to like the reboot either way, can be traced to the script, not the direction. Visually, both films were top notch (tired lens flare complaints aside), and I still think the cast has the potential to excel if they’re given the right material. But is Orci the right man for the job?
Well, he’s probably got an uphill battle to win over the naysayers. In addition to helping write two of the most divisive Star Trek films ever, Orci also has a recent history of badmouthing fans who didn’t love the rebooted movies. Sure, he apologized for it later, but that sort of thing isn’t likely to put him on the good side of the fans Star Trek 3 would theoretically hope to win over.
Who knows, maybe Orci will do a stellar job and give us a modern Star Trek film everybody can agree on. But if the fans still bitter about the last two are dubious about the whole thing, well…that’s only logical.